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People Who Need People.

I first started blogging because I felt alone and wanted to find more than diabetes misery in my "diabetes" search returns on Google.  That was five years ago.  The blogosphere was shiny and new(ish, at least), and the diabetes blogosphere was in its infancy, with very few "real" voices carrying over the snake oil spammers and the WebMD sites.  Even though I had buddies from Clara Barton Camp and even though I knew of one or two other diabetics through friends of friends, I didn't have a network of people who really "got it."

But the Internet grew, and the diabetes community grew with it.  Today we have hundreds of diabetes blogs and dozens of diabetes chat discussions on Twitter and Facebook groups and forums and Flickr groups and entire social networks and on and on and … well, on.  

Last night, during the #dsma (Diabetes Social Media Advocacy) discussion on Twitter, I realized that the shift is happening again.  The discussion was turning towards how to help connect with other diabetics who weren't online and who didn't have access to the online community.  Before blogging, I was searching for online diabetes connections because there were very few people with diabetes in my offline life.  I liked connecting with others online because I was sort of cloaked in the then-anonymity of the internet.  I could talk about the feelings stirred up by that nasty 242 mg/dl blood sugar the other morning, or the shame in skipping my workout so I could go out to dinner.  But after blogging about these experiences, I would log off and return to "real life," where no one knew much about what life was really like with diabetes. 

Then the lines started to blur, and I wanted to remove that cloak.  I wanted to know more than just the diabetes sides of these people's personalities.  In person meet ups were scheduled, and dinners started to become regular monthly events, and I started removing the caveat of "blogger" when I was referring to my new friends.  Blog life and real life weren't as separate as they once were, and while diabetes was more of a discussion point than it had ever been before, it felt like a smaller part of my life.  Love, marriage, friends, traveling, hobbies ... those things seems to take precedence over diabetes.  While I still managed my condition closely, I felt like I could breathe easier, knowing there were all these people who really understood how I felt.  And the more I got to know these people, the better I felt about my diabetes.

Which is why it makes perfect sense that people went online to find people they could hang out with in person.  Full circle.  We're just a pile of people who need people.

I realized that even though the Internet provides so much support and information for people living with diabetes, there isn't anything quite like talking face-to-face with another person with diabetes.  The words you speak out loud may be the very same ones you'd write in a blog post or comment, but there is something so cool about seeing the actual arched eyebrow or tugging grin or wild hand gesture.  And as the diabetes community grows online, I see it budding and blooming in "real life," in meet ups and dinner dates and conferences.  (We're like the anti-Vegas - what happens online meets in a coffee shop eventually.)

Diabetes on your own can be a very heavy burden.  Lots to manage, lots to juggle, and lots of emotions to muddle through at any given time.  But with the kind of support that we, as members of this community have access to, it's like a helium injection. 

And it all gets lighter, and easier to carry.

You guys are the balloons that hold up my house o' diabetes.

Comments

Hi! I've been lurking on your blog for a good 10 months now... I'm a type 2, who was looking for information on diabetes and pregnancy when I was pregnant with my son. I ended up being on insulin from the 2nd trimester on, and I knew nothing! My doctor's weren't exactly helpful either... So THANK YOU for all you do, and the information you provide! It helped ease my fears and gave me the knowledge (and reassurance) I was looking for. Our son was born on 1/31/10 @ 35w1d. It was a bit bumpy in the beginning, but now he's doing great! THANK YOU!!!

I understand your need to start a blog after feeling so alone. I've done the same thing with blogging about Type 2. I'm still looking for more non-typical Type 2s, but I've found almost a comfort while sharing my story. Feel free to add me to your blogroll.

Your writing voice is so much like your actual voice, it's scary, unlike any other in the community. (Okay, so your actual voice is a little more potty...)

The lure of reaching out to those disconnected from the 'net is overwhelming me right now. While we have this "little" community, there are so many in need of support - many of whom don't know they need it.

Just like you and G and so many were before this "little" community came to be five years ago.

Kerri, your blog was one of the first I found when I decided that the internet might be helpful in finding any kind of community of people who understood my new world, shortly after my two year old was diagnosed with Type 1. A year later, I started my own blog as a form of healing and finding the positive in each day. It has brought me support and friends from all over the world. My husband and I are now about to start a local support group for parents of children with T1D.
It's like mining for gold and striking it lucky every time! I still love your blog as it fills me with hope for my boy's future. Thank you.

Word up. Well said!

Also, dinner at my house tonight, everyone!

You blog has open so many doors for me. I was floundering with poor control, no anbition for better control. When I stumbled on the site I could not believe that there was someone out there with the same feelings,challanges and frustrations. Your blog motivated me. Your words told me that I too can manage my diabetes. Yes there will be crazy days and that is ok too. I Jumped to the Pump in April and have seen immediate improvement.

I have been following your blog for about a year now. I look forward to you humor, insight and expressions. Every time time I read your blog I get a "get out of my head" moment. Thanks so much for sharing something so personal with us. It just makes us feel better about our diabetes.

Kerri, your blog was the first diabetes related blog I had ever read. You inspired me to start my own blog. Thank you for all you do. :)

P.S. Asian pears rock! I just had my first one the other day and I'm in love! I haven't been able to find them at the store since then though. :(

I found your blog almost a year ago as my husband and I decided we wanted to start a family. I have worked hard and my A1C is now 5.7 but I have been unable to get pregnant yet. But I have appreciated all of the information that you wrote about your pregnancy and how you deal with a baby and diabetes now. It gives me hope that one day we will have our little one. Thank you for that.

So true Kerri. I can breathe easier now too that I have some T1 D friends. I just can't believe that I've waited so long.

I was going thru a particularly rough time once and a friend told me "We all have a cross to carry thru life. Some are light, some are heavy, and sometimes they just seem heavy. But there's not one damn thing that says you have to carry it all by yourself"

Great post. Kerri and last nite's #dsma was a good one

My "real-life" meet-ups are one of my favorite parts about the on-line community. :)

It is fantastic when the online friends become real friends. I still have yet to meet most of my online friends since I am in CA and most of you are East of the Mississippi. One day! :)

There is nothing like this DOC, nothing. Well, except for meeting PWD face to face, that does trump it. The DOC has gotten me through moments of doubt, sadness, and questioning.
And you, Kerri, have given me something that no one else could - the vision of what my daughter would look like and be when she was an adult. For that, I cannot thank you enough.

Oh how true!! I was so grateful to find the online diabetes community because I suddenly had a whole bunch of people who understood and cared. It was great not to feel so isolated. But then to be fortunate enough to meet so many of them (like you!!) in real life - I just can't describe how wonderful it is. To sit down to dinner with a group and have no one bat an eye when a meter is pulled out. To hear a pump beep and laugh when we all look down to see if it's us. To spend an entire weekend at BlogHer with a room-mate who was trying just as hard I was to guesstimate the carbs in our meals and keep stresses from travel from throwing us out of whack. It. Has. Been. Awesome!

My daughter was diagnosed almost three years ago. We live in a very small rural area and she was the only kid in town with diabetes. The first summer after my daughters diagnosis, she went to diabetes camp and was so excited to meet other kids like her. Kids that had to check blood sugar before eating, before swimming, before sleeping. Prior to that, her only exposure to other kids with diabetes came from a childrens diabetes forum, but she said it wasn't the same. Almost a year to the day after she was diagnosed, her friend was diagnosed as well. Their relationship quickly became much stronger and they are now pretty much attached at the hip. As much as I hate the fact that either girl has diabetes, I am SO thankful they have eachother as well as having her parents who really do understand and who I can trust 100% to make sure my daughter is well cared for.

Very well said Kerri.

You all have changed my life for the better, and I appreciate every single story and interaction I have.

Now let's go out and change the world! :-)

I loved this post and the movie Up, so it's perfect that you wrote the post and included that picture. Diabetes is heavy that I'm glad to have you all as balloons.

Kerri-

I agree with Scottie, very well said!

You and the D-OC have changed my life in a number of ways:) Next, step for me is try to help others offline.

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